From the Archive: A Memorable Play-Off Victory

Over the last five years, our battles with Forest Green Rovers have created some truly memorable encounters at both Rodney Parade and the New Lawn. The cream of the crop though, came in the 2020/21 campaign, when we defeated Forest Green 2-0 in the play-off semi finals first-leg at Rodney Parade.

The 2020/21 league season was one of the strangest on record. Fans were out of stadiums in Wales for the entire year, and we will never know whether the roar of the crowd would have been able to help us secure the extra six points we needed to finish in the automatic promotion spots. 

Thankfully, fans were finally allowed back in the stadium when he hosted Forest Green in the play-offs. Both teams had finished the league season on 73 points, with goal difference meaning that our opponents got the home advantage in the second league. 

Only 900 fans were allowed back in Rodney Parade in what was their first slice of live football in 438 days. The returning home crowd clearly lifted the team, with Padraig Amond and Lewis Collins creating chances in the opening ten minutes. 

The deadlock was broken in the 31st minute when Josh Sheehan laid the ball back to Matt Dolan, who hammered home a stunning 25-yard strike. 

While there may have only been 900 fans in Newport, you could have heard the celebrations in Cardiff when the ball hit the back of the net. 

These jubilant celebrations continued into the second half when Lewis Collins, who was lining up against his brother and former Newport player Aaron, knocked the ball past McGee in the Forest Green net to double our lead. 

A few days later, we would make the trip across to Nailsworth for what was one of the most exciting games in our recent memory. Forest Green would take a 3-0 lead by the 53rd minute, but goals from Joss Labadie and Kevin Ellison put us back in the lead on aggregate. Former County striker Jamille Matt dashed our hopes in the 87th minute, putting Rovers 4-2 up and sending the game to extra-time. 

Never ones to do things the easy way, County finally booked their spot at Wembley thanks to a 119th-minute goal from substitute Nicky Maynard. Never has a 4-3 defeat ever been so wildly celebrated.